Baseball lost two Hall of Famers today. Earl Weaver, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, and Stan Musial, 24 time all-star for the St. Louis Cardinals, both passed away earlier in the day on Saturday. Musial, nicknamed Stan the Man, is certainly the more well-known of the two. He played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals and in addition to those 24 all-star games, Musial was the National League MVP three times, won three World Series championships, seven batting titles, and compiled a life time batting average of .331. Some would argue that Stan the Man was the greatest baseball player ever.
Although not as many people know Earl Weaver, his passing today had the greater impact on me. You see, as a boy growing up in Baltimore in the 1970s, I was a huge fan of Weaver and the Orioles. He was a tremendous manager and his teams, including the 1970 World Series champions, seemed to always be in the pennant chase. As I thought about Earl Weaver today, I thought of the leadership lessons we can learn from his time as manager of the Orioles.
The first thing I remember when I think of Earl Weaver is the passion he had for the game. He had more than a few animated discussions with umpires that showed the team and the Baltimore fans how passionate he was about baseball and the Orioles. We’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of passion and enthusiasm, and Weaver displayed this as the leader of the Orioles. (At times he may have shown too much passion. He was ejected from two games before they ever started; and three times he was ejected from both games of a doubleheader.) If we are not passionate and enthusiastic, how can we expect our teams to be? Enthusiasm is contagious and if we model our passion and enthusiasm for our teams, we’ll see these qualities in them.
The second lesson we can learn from Earl Weaver is how meticulously he prepared for his opponents. Weaver kept books of statistics tracking the match ups of his hitters against opposing pitchers and his pitchers against opposing hitters. He used this information to to make roster decisions to help his team compete more effectively. As leaders, we need to gather information and then use it to improve our decision-making abilities. We will make better decisions if we seek pertinent information and then use it to evaluate the pros and cons of various alternatives.
Finally, Earl Weaver believed in “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer.” Weaver didn’t like the hit-and-run or the sacrifice bunt. He believed these strategies were just playing for one run and why should you play for one run when you can get more? Weaver preferred to be patient and wait for the three-run homer. I call this “thinking big.” And as leaders, we need to think big. We must have big dreams and big visions for our organizations and our teams. Big thoughts get big results. If we think big we can accomplish great things. Earl Weaver taught us that if we think big, we can hit the three-run homer instead of settling for less.
Baseball lost two Hall of Famers today. One was an all-time great player. The other was a great manager who, although not as well known, left a lasting impression on a boy from Baltimore.
Thanks for reading,